Bridging The Word GAP Challenge

Congratulations to the
Phase 1 winners!

The Bridging the Word Gap Challenge will award $300,000 in prizes to support innovative solutions that can help promote early-language development among children from low-income families in the U.S.

WHAT IS THE WORD GAP?

The word gap is the difference between the number of words children from low-income families are exposed to as compared to children from high-income families. By age three, children from low-income families are hearing 30 million fewer words than those from higher-income families.

This is staggering. And it can have serious consequences. It can influence how young children develop language skills. It can even affect their future performance at school and ultimately in their careers.

By 18 months of age, toddlers from disadvantaged families are already several months behind more advantaged children in language proficiency.

Anne Fernald, Virginia A. Marchman and Adriana Weisleder, “SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months.” Developmental Science 16:2 (2013), pp 234-248, accessed October 23, 2015, doi: 10.1111./desc. 12019

These gaps widen, rather than diminish, over the early elementary years.

Ross Thompson, “Early Foundations for Developing Literacy.” (presentation for webinar Building Connections to Support Literacy: Systems of Early Learning for Children Birth to Age 8, ZERO TO THREE, 2010).

Children’s academic successes at ages 9 and 10 can be linked to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age 3.

Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children (Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 1995).

Poor health, dropout rates, poverty and crime—we can address these problems by investing in developmental opportunities for at-risk children.

James Heckman, “Invest in Early Childhood Development: Reduce Deficits, Strengthen the Economy,” The Heckman Equation (2012): 1 – 2.

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE WORD GAP CHALLENGE?

The goal is to create a tool to help parents and caregivers talk and engage more with young children, so all children in the U.S. are on the path to success from an early age.

PHASE 1

Design

November 9, 2015 - January 29, 2016

7-10 winners
Up to $10,000 each

PHASE 2

Development and Small Scale Testing

March 11 - August 11, 2016

3-5 winners
Up to $25,000 each

PHASE 3

Scaling

September 26, 2016 - March 26, 2017

1 winner
Up to $100,000 each